A few months ago, I blogged about how theft of pharmaceutical cargo—from warehouses, parking lots, and even the road—is on the rise. This week, FDA issued a letter to stakeholders about this very problem (the letter is posted on the Rx-360 website. “These crimes threaten the public health because product that has left the legitimate supply chain poses potential safety risks to consumers,” says the letter. “There have been several cases where patients experienced adverse reactions from stolen drugs, reactions that were most likely due to improper storage and handling. We do not want to see this increase in thefts continue.”
FDA provides in its letter to stakeholders information on what to do when such a theft occurs and provides suggestions for minimizing thefts, including noting that drug manufacturers “have a fundamental responsibility to continuously review their warehouse physical security and security practices and procedures for transporting products to ensure that measures are in place to minimize the risk of warehouse and cargo theft.”
Pharmaceutical Technology talked to Joe Wilson of Sonitrol Canada, an electronic security company based in Surrey, British Colombia, about why these types of break-ins and thefts have been increasing. “Criminals are getting smarter with their targets … Thieves know they can liquidate the value of stolen pharmaceutical goods for an attractive price on the black market.” Wilson notes that manufacturers and distributors often overlook the vulnerabilities of conventional alarms. “Besides being easy to break, conventional motion-detector alarms are prone to false alarms and fail to verify if a crime is actually happening. As a result, police response times are either delayed or the police stop showing up.” Security systems that stream live audio and video may be more useful.
According to a Wall Street Journal article on drugs stolen from a Lilly warehouse in March, there have been 10 pharmaceutical thefts valued at a total of $110 million to date this year compared with pharma-related thefts valued at $184 million for all of 2009. It seems high time for industry to raise even more the level of its physical security when it comes to protecting the supply chain.